By: Avishai (Jacob) Cohen  | 

Students, Faculty Recognized At Syms Dinner

On Thursday night, April 30, 2015, about 350 students, faculty, parents and guests gathered at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park for the annual Sy Syms Gala Awards Dinner. Students from both campuses were bussed to the Museum, located at the southern tip of Manhattan. Upon arrival, students posed for pictures in front of the YU insignia and mingled in the Museum lobby for about 45 minutes. The program for the evening began in the Museum’s auditorium and featured self-congratulatory speeches from the Syms Student Council (SYMSSC) presidents as well as Syms Associate Dean Michael Strauss, and Dr. Henry Kressel, outgoing chairman of the YU Board of Trustees.

Talia Kugelman, SYMSSC president on the Beren campus, spoke about all of the developments and accomplishments over the course of the year. She spoke about the new clubs on campus, notably the TAMID Israel Business Club which recently brought the CEO of Barclays Israel to the Wilf campus, and site visits run by various clubs including the Accounting Society visit to EY (Ernst & Young) and the Hospitality Management Club’s visit to the Andaz Fifth Avenue hotel in Midtown.

Leo Korman, SYMSSC president on the Wilf campus, highlighted the Council’s recent forays into social media engagement and noted the recently launched Instagram and Twitter accounts of the Council as well as the weekly email newsletter and Facebook page. Korman also noted that for the first time, the Syms Dinner had an official Snapchat account to which students were able to post their pictures throughout the dinner. Dean Strauss talked about the growth of Syms since he came to YU and noted some of the recent accomplishments of Syms faculty. Specifically, Dr. Tamar Avnet and Dr. Henry Huang who have recently published research in prestigious academic journals. Kressel, for his part, described Syms as “extremely important for the future of the Jewish people.”

The main component of the dinner was the awards ceremony for students and staff. Sima Weissman, a Syms student on the Beren campus, presented Robert Greenberg, Professor of Business Law, with the Professor of the Year award, noting his unwavering dedication and commitment to his students both in and out of the classroom: “You are so much more than a role model…your enthusiasm for Torah and law is palpable,” Weissman said. True to form, Greenberg noted that he is much more comfortable teaching business law in the classroom than standing in the spotlight, and joked that he is “maybe not half bad at doing it.”

The adjunct of the year award went to Rabbi Ozer Glickman, a RIETS Rosh Yeshiva who teaches the Business and Jewish Law course. Adin Liss, who presented the award, described Rabbi Glickman as a model of Torah u’Madda and noted Rabbi Glickman’s accomplishments in the business world. Dean Strauss accepted the award on Rabbi Glickman’s behalf, as he was not present. Professor Claire Zakheim, outgoing Director of Academic Advising for Syms at Wilf, was effusively praised by Strauss and received an award for service to the school, presented by Syms student Max Spector.

Other awards were handed to various students for excellence in accounting, finance, marketing, and management as well as school service and valedictorians. In memory of Ryan Khaldar, a Yeshiva University alumnus who tragically passed away last year, a new award was introduced this year for excellence in finance. Sidney Mehl, Instructor in Finance, and Ryan’s brother Eitan, a current Syms student, presented the award and spoke about Ryan. The award went to Shragie Lichtenstein, finance major and president of the Investment Club.

Following the award ceremony, a buffet dinner was served on the Museum’s second floor. Students mingled with each other and faculty in the dining room as well as the buffet area before the next part of the program began, featuring speeches from President Joel, Syms Dean Moses L. Pava and Marcy Syms, daughter of Sy Syms. All the speakers effusively praised Harold Grinspoon, a real estate magnate from Massachusetts who was present at the dinner to receive the Sy Syms Humanitarian Award. Pava read from a children’s book about Grinspoon and noted that he is “a strong man who faced many challenges” and that “he loves Israel and being Jewish.” Marcy Syms spoke about the importance of the Business School to her family and noted that her family foundation has pledged $500,000 to the school this year. Ms. Syms noted that the Sy Syms Humanitarian award also included $25,000. Ms. Syms and Grinspoon had an interview-style conversation on stage. At one point, Grinspoon offered to teach the millionaire heiress and the crowd the “ABC’s of how to become wealthy.”

Following the program, dessert was served in the dining room and David Blatt, a well known mentalist entertained the crowd. Blatt’s performance was well-received by the audience with laughter heard all around. Soon enough, the evening came to an end as the Museum emptied out, marking another successful Syms dinner.